The cabinet with new Prime Minister, Grigol Mgaloblishvili, and four other new ministers won the parliamentary confidence vote on November 1.
The slightly reshuffled cabinet secured the backing of 98 MPs, with 11 – those from the parliamentary minority – voting against.
Zurab Adeishvili, the head of the President's Administration, has replaced Nika Gvaramia as Minster of Justice, which now already incorporates the General Prosecutor’s Office. Grigol Vashadze, a career diplomat who served as deputy foreign minister, has replaced Nikoloz Vacheishvili as the new minister of culture. Lawmaker Koba Subeliani replaced Minister for Refugees and Accommodation Tamar Martiashvili and Governor of Samtskhe-Javakheti region Goga Khachidze has replaced Minister for Environment Irakli Gvaladze.
PM Mgaloblishvili is a 35-year-old diplomat who served as Georgia’s ambassador to Turkey before the new appointment and is a newcomer in the politics.
He told lawmakers that “united Georgia without poverty” – the President Saakashvili’s and the ruling party’s pre-election slogans ahead of the presidential and parliamentary polls earlier this year – would be the major goal of his government.
“Much has been done since the Rose Revolution, but that is not enough; much still needs to be done, because many of our compatriots are in poverty and much still needs to be done to create new jobs and increase security,” he said at the parliamentary session on November 1.
He said that the government’s goal was to implement 50-month program, but before that implementation of 18-month reconstruction plan to recover from the August war was needed.
“We have received two major challenges in recent two months – the Russian aggression and the international financial crisis,” PM Mgaloblishvili said. “18-month plan implementation will get Georgia back on the track of dynamic development, which will enable us to successfully implement the 50-month plan.”
The new Prime Minister said that “reconstruction, taking care of people and employment” would be his government’s tasks with focus on “radical democratic and economic reforms.”
“Democratic reforms should envisage correcting those mistakes, which have triggered justified questions among the society; one of them is protection of property rights,” he said.
PM Mgaloblishvili noted that he planned to establish “a private property protection monitoring system.” He, however, failed to specify details of the proposals and said he was ready to work on exact mechanisms of the system together with the Parliament.
He said that the plan was to start increasing monthly pensions from 2009. The goal, he said, was “to get the pension to the point of USD 100.” The PM, however, said he was not ready at this point to give exact schedule of this increase. He also said that gradual increase of monthly salary by GEL 50 for public school teachers was also planned starting from 2009.
He also asked the Parliament to allow the government to withdraw the 2009 draft budget, which has already been submitted to the Parliament for consideration, and to revise it within next two week, as he put it, “in line of the government’s goals.”
In his address to the lawmakers, the new Prime Minister reiterated he was “open for talks” with the parliamentary minority on coalition cabinet.
“I have stated that three days were not enough for me to form the new cabinet, so it was my request to the President not to change radically the cabinet at this point. I am ready for consultations on the matter [coalition government] with everyone – because consolidation is what we need now.
He also said that he considered the current members of the cabinet as “professionals,” which was yet another reason behind the decision to carry out only minor changes in the cabinet.
Giorgi Targamadze of the Christian-Democratic Party and leader of parliamentary minority said the group was not supporting “the reshuffled cabinet, because these are not real changes.”
He said that no one had explained by former PM Lado Gurgenidze was sacked, “but at the same time we have listened [the ruling party] saying that the government was working very well.”
“The Christian-Democratic Party thinks that the government has not worked well during the August events, including the Foreign Ministry, Defense Ministry, chief of staff of the armed forces,” MP Giorgi Targamadze said.
In a rebuttal speech, the parliamentary majority leader from the ruling party, MP Petre Tsiskarishvili, responded that it was very same Defense Ministry and army, which has prevented – together with the international involvement – to prevent Russian troops from taking over Tbilisi.
Parliamentary Chairman, Davit Bakradze, said after the discussions were over that the new Prime Minister had demonstrated during the debates that “he is not only a good diplomat, but a person, who has a great political future.”